Through A Small Gap – A Reunion Poem for Two Voices

Not so very long after our reunion began, my natural mother sent me a poem she’d written about us finding each other.

Shortly after our first meeting, I wrote down what I recalled.

The following is a poem for two voices that combines these two pieces of writing.

I can’t believe you’re in my life.

I do not remember the color of the door. Or the texture.

Only the curtains to the side, through which I looked,

after I’d knocked,

and waited.

I didn’t think I’d see you one day. I’d given 

up hope years ago.

I do not remember the color of the curtains, only

that they left a small gap, through which I saw

the slim hall and the edges of

kitchen counter,  sofa, armchair. On the far side

of these, a sliding door lay open, revealing

pieces of the three of you,

lounging on the balcony.

I’d torn up the words

from the year of your birth, and 

tightened the lock

on the box in my head.

‘You could turn and run.’

I remember thinking that. I recall the idea seeming

red and grainy. I knocked again, swallowed,  felt

my saliva, thick, inching down my throat, while through the sliver, you,

my mother, and your husband and your other daughter —

the one you kept–

didn’t move at all.

I couldn’t have searched, 

didn’t want to intrude, I’d given

you up, I was told —

for good.

I stepped back from the sliver, towards

the grainy , red idea.

Then one day a phone call, she’s looking

for me. A letter, a picture, a journey

to my daughter

across the sea.

And then you were there, crowding in the skinny hall.

Your husband and other daughter — my sister — squashed

themselves into the doorframe. Behind them, you,

who I wanted to get to — whom I’d tracked

over 3000 miles and 37 years and as many layers

of bureaucracy — waiting in the hallway.

The meeting first so awkward, unleashed

the tears, and pain crashed over me,

relentlessly, the anguish and the shame,

the wonder too

as I gazed at you.

 Later, you told me I drank

water from the tap, which you thought

was good, and not American at all.

I don’t remember that, either.

Is this my daughter?

Can this be true?

I remember, though, the feeling of you and me,

sitting side by side on the couch, less than a foot apart. I remember

the color of your eyes, gray, with a hazel circle around the pupil

like the eyes I’d been looking at all my life. I remember

the grain of your freckled hand

wrapped around the mug of tea; the heat

of my own mug in my same-grained hand; the warmth

of the tea, brown and smooth, slipping down my throat,

the tea you — my mother — made.

I only had five days with you

in the afterbirthing time, before they took you

from the crib and left me

so alone.

Couldn’t they have waited

until I, too, had gone?

I remember the cadence of your words, the melody,

halting in places, dotted with rests, skipping beats

we walked across the grass and over the bridge and along the road

as you made your way, sight reading a long-tucked-away tune,

through the love you’d held for my father, the goodbye

you’d said, the knitting needles clacking in the mothering home,

your fearful heart, beating

in the hospital, your belly and soul

emptying

in the days after.

A lifetime had gone by

with you hidden

in my soul.

I remember one loose tear

trailing your cheek

while your husband and my sister stepped ahead, clearing space,

making room for me to come in.

It feels so good to free you

and make our spirits whole.

It feels so good to know you                                                   It feels so good to know you

my beloved darling girl.                                                            my beloved darling mother

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